Friday, 31 October 2014

Full On - The Rush to Self-Publish

This week has been really crazy. My son was ill, work was busy and...I crashed my car. Driving out of the garage. Yes, you wouldn't think it was possible, but I can tell you now, it is. So I have a massive dent in the side door and damaged plasterwork on the side of the house.  Why did I do this? How did I do this?

It was because my head was full.  The kindle format had not uploaded properly and I was worrying about a plot point in the novel I was planning, and my son wanted to watch a video because he was feeling poorly and I needed to write an overdue report for work. Unfortunately, little things like steering just went out the window.

So, here's a warning. Your first trip to self-pub land will take longer than you think. It will be more complicated than you'd realised and you'll spend more time worrying about it than you had thought you would. But on the plus side - there will be more fun times and excitement than you'd planned for, too.

The Trip to Self-Pub Land

Today, I have just pushed the 'Publish' button on my first self-published novel, Inner Fire. Very exciting! In my next series of posts I will discuss the stages I've gone through to get it out into the world. I will try and give you pointers about What Went Well and What to Avoid. (Believe me, there are a lot of things to avoid.)

However, before even pushing the 'publish button' there's an important decision point you have to reach.

Will you, or not, do it yourself?

These are the steps I took to reach this decision.

Quality Control: You can purchase Inner Fire here . And if you buy it you'll be able to find out if all the things I talk about later in this blog have been worth the effort!

Before Self-Publishing

1.  Write the book. This sounds obvious, and of course it is, but my point is more the sequence. Experienced self-published authors begin with marketing this new, yet-to-be-written book well in advance of writing it. I did not; partly from a superstitious fear that to do so might somehow jinx the process, and partly from a reluctance to commit to a deadline too early on.

2.  Approach traditional publishers. There are advantages to trad publishing, as discussed earlier in this blog, but at some point you need to make a call as to whether you will continue to approach them or not. Because my last experience with traditional publishers involved manuscripts sitting on editorial desks for 8 - 12 months, I was hesitant about approaching trad publishers. I did not want to wait nearly a year before putting a book on kindle. So instead I compromised and sent copies of Inner Fire to five agents. One was semi-interested, but said the market was for contemporary drama at the moment (The Fault in Our Stars, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and so declined it. The rest took either a long time to respond or declined within four weeks, which was great. Agents are a lot faster than editors about rejecting material!  However, the first agent I approached, whom I already knew personally, has offered to assist with promotion, so who knows where that might lead. That's the beauty of self-pub. You continue to own the rights.

3. Really think hard. Is it good enough? There might be a reason why agents have declined it, quite apart from the market not being right. Use critique partners; give the novel to a trusted friend; use a manuscript assessor. In my earlier posts I discussed how to find critique partners, and you can access assessors from the New Zealand Society of Authors. There are two reasons why you need to consider the quality of your work. The first is because if the novel is bad, it won't sell, and you could spend a lot of time and effort for no return. The other reason is because it is horrible horrible horrible to get bad reviews. The beauty and the problem with the world wide web is that everybody's opinions can be shared in an unfiltered and unbiased way and when it's your own creative work, this can hurt. The worst thing, I find, is when a reviewer picks up on some flaw in your work that you really wish you'd seen and corrected. So do think hard before self-publishing.

I had just won a major award and had been shortlisted for several more, all of which gave me a little more confidence that yes, I might actually be able to product a quality work, regardless of whose brand was on the cover. So I decided that hey, what do agents and publisher's know? I liked the work. And I thought it was worth trying the process with it.

4. Decision point reached: Yes or No.

Best Moments so Far?

  1. A box of fantastic-looking books arriving by courier.
  2. My first sale. 
  3. An email from a reader in the Philippines who said she 'loved it!'. 
  4. And my first five-star review.

Over the next few weeks I'll talk through the steps I've taken to get Inner Fire onto book shelves. I'll let you know which steps went well and which did not. So stayed tuned.

And in the meantime, drive safely.


  1. Wah! Shame about the car. But great news about happy fan mail and 5 star review! You're doing this, and it's working! Yay!

  2. Hey Deb, nice to hear from you. This post demonstrates why driving under the influence of writing is not a good idea! I should post a picture of the crumpled, badly scratched door on my next post....